Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts for readers

Today we kick off a week’s worth of great ideas to make your holiday shopping a snap

pkelley@charlotteobserver.comNovember 24, 2012 

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This year’s literary gift guide offers books to suit many readers – lovers of sports and mysteries, history buffs, children looking for a good bedtime tale. We’ve focused especially on homegrown talent, with more than a dozen books from writers and publishing houses with Carolinas connections.

Among them: “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” ( Ecco, 320 pages, $25.99), by Chapel Hill native and UNC-Chapel Hill graduate Ben Fountain. Fountain’s debut was recently named a National Book Award finalist. The Washington Post calls the book “a masterful echo of ‘Catch-22,’ with war in Iraq at the center.” Find many more book and music ideas on pages 4-5D.

Birds of Paradise: Revealing the World’s Most Extraordinary Birds

By Tim Laman and Edwin Scholes (National Geographic Books, 228 pages, $50)

A renowned photographer and leading ornithologist share their research and stunning photos of all 39 species of these birds, which are found in the wilderness of Papua New Guinea.

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012

Edited by Dave Eggers (Mariner Books, 432 pages, $14.95)

“Eclectic” describes this collection of fiction and nonfiction by authors both well-known (Louise Erdrich, Junot Diaz) and not so well-known. It also includes a “haphazard stockpile of some pieces that don’t fit anywhere else,” such as the best tweets responding to the death of Osama Bin Laden.

The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965

By William Manchester and Paul Reid (Little, Brown, 1,232 pages, $40)

This is the final volume of historian William Manchester’s best-selling “Last Lion” trilogy. Manchester died in 2004, but his friend Paul Reid, who lives in Tryon, about 90 miles west of Charlotte, completed it. Publishers Weekly says this “long-delayed majestic account” is worth the wait.


By E.T.A. Hoffman, illustrated by Maurice Sendak (Crown, 120 pages, $24.99)

This reissue of E.T.A. Hoffman’s classic story was first published in 1984. Illustrator Maurice Sendak, who died this year, based his pictures on Hoffman’s original 1816 short story, which he described as possessing “weird, dark qualities that make it something of a masterpiece.” Sendak, of course, brought his own brilliant, weird vision to the illustrations.

The Walnut Tree: A Holiday Tale

By Charles Todd (William Morrow, 256 pages, $16.99)

Mother-son team Caroline and Charles Todd write under the name Charles Todd. In recent years, they’ve won critical acclaim for their mysteries, but this new tale is a romance, set in Europe during World War I. Caroline Todd lives in Delaware, son Charles in Charlotte.

Kindle Paperwhite e-reader


Many purists have scoffed at e-readers, only to give them a grudging shot and find themselves sold. Amazon’s latest generation gadget (it’s on Consumer Reports’ recommended list) has higher contrast than the previous generation Kindle, a built-in front light for reading in all lighting conditions, battery life of up to eight weeks, and a thin, light design. (Wireless model is $179.)

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